manipulative step daughter

How to Deal With Your Stepdaughter Who Is Manipulative

Last Updated on September 11, 2021.

A stepdaughter who exhibits manipulative behavior is a common problem that many stepmothers face. It can be difficult to know what you’re dealing with until it becomes a serious issue. In this blog post, we will discuss the reasons why stepdaughters are manipulative and provide some tips on how to deal with these behaviors when they arise.

What is Child Manipulation?

Manipulation is a strategy that people use to get what they want from others. When it comes to stepdaughters and their manipulative behavior, this typically involves them using negative emotions in order to control or influence the actions of someone else.

They often use tears or anger in order to get their way. This is a common technique that they learn from watching the family dynamics around them grow up, usually from both parents and other siblings. While it may be difficult for you, these actions are not directed at you specifically but rather how your stepdaughter has learned she can successfully communicate with others when she doesn’t get what she wants.

Ways your Step daughter might manipulate you:

When your stepdaughter is trying to manipulate you, she might engage in any of the following behaviors:

  • She will play on family dynamics and relationships between other members of your household (such as siblings) and how much they care about her. If there’s a lot of closeness within the sibling relationship, it can be very difficult for her to get what she wants when they’re against it.
  • She will ask for something in a whiny and sad tone of voice. This is likely the only way she’s ever gotten things from other people in her life so far.
  • If you say no, expect tears or anger before long! It may not be immediately after you say no, but it’s definitely coming.
  • She will try to get other family members on her side. Your stepdaughter may ask them for things or telling them how you’re not being fair (and they should take her side).
  • She will make threats, such as saying she’ll run away or hurt herself.
  • Or she may try to be extra nice in order to get you on her side. For example, if you say no about something that’s usually allowed, she might begin being very helpful around the house in an attempt to change your mind.
  • She may try to manipulate you by playing up how much she’s done for you. She might feel like she deserves something in return.

RELATED: Help! My Child Wants to Control EVERYTHING!

7 Strategies to Deal with a Manipulative Step Daughter

If you’re struggling with a manipulative stepdaughter, here are 7 strategies you can use to tackle this troubling behavior.

Keep Your Cool

When your stepdaughter starts to engage in manipulative behavior, it’s very easy for you (and others) to get upset. Don’t fall into the trap of arguing back with her.

However, this will only escalate the situation because she’ll be able to tell that you’ve lost control of yourself. Be sure not to lose your temper!

Document Everything

One of the best things that you can do is to keep track of everything your stepdaughter does. Document every incident in detail, including what happened and how it made you feel .

You should also document any threats she makes or negative actions towards herself (such as throwing a tantrum). These incidents will help prove to others. You may need to show family therapists or child protective services that she has a history of manipulating you and others in your household.

Engage Your Partner

Your partner is (most likely) your stepdaughter’s biological parent. Make sure they know exactly what’s going on.

Their presence may be enough to prevent your stepdaughter from engaging in manipulative behavior around you. Or they might have some advice for how to handle the situation when it arises.

Get Clarity on Your Role as a Step Parenting

While it may be difficult to do so, sometimes getting clarity on your role in relation to the stepdaughter is helpful.

Talk to your stepdaughter’s biological parents and find out what parenting role they would like you to fill. Are you a disciplinarian? Or should that be left to your partner? Are you able to make decisions about her activities and requests? Outlining exactly what you are and aren’t responsible for will help keep the peace.

Once you figure out your role, make sure your stepdaughter is aware of it, too.

Practice Effective Communication Skills

When your stepdaughter tries to manipulate you, it’s important that you communicate with her in an assertive way.

For example, if she starts whining or using a sad tone of voice when asking for something, try responding by saying “I’m sorry but I can’t let you do/have that.”

Or if she starts playing up how helpful she’s been around the house lately, try saying “I know you’ve helped a lot but I’m still not going to let you do/have that.”

Listening skills are also a part of effective communication. Make sure you’re actually listening to what your stepdaughter has to say. Avoid interrupting or getting defensive when she’s speaking, and paraphrasing so that you know for certain you understood her correctly.

Get Help

If you feel like your stepdaughter’s manipulative behavior is out of control, or if she has threatened to hurt herself or run away, make sure you get help immediately.

You may be able to talk it over with family members (such as her biological parents) but otherwise consider asking for support from a qualified therapist who can give you guidance on how to handle this difficult situation.

Have Patience

Remember that your stepdaughter is dealing with a lot of difficult emotions, which can lead to manipulative behavior.

If you feel like she may be struggling with depression or anxiety (such as separation anxiety), make sure you reach out for help. These mental health conditions are common in teenagers and could explain her sudden change in behavior.

Relationships are built over time, so you’ll need to work on your relationship with her over the course of many months or years. Make an effort to connect, build trust, and create lasting memories.

how to handle a manipulative step daughter
how to handle manipulative stepdaughters

What to do when you just don’t like your step daughter.

If you’ve tried everything, and you just don’t like your stepdaughter, it’s OK.

But you still have an obligation to make an effort with her. You’re the adult. But you can take steps to limit your involvement when possible. Let your partner handle all the decision making related to your stepdaughter. And set firm boundaries within your relationship.

You might feel like it’s unfair to have this obligation when she doesn’t reciprocate the relationship, but remember that when parents divorce there are often children in both households who will need love and attention from everyone involved.

At some point, you might consider leaving your relationship or marriage because of strain between you and your stepdaughter. It’s best to consult a professional therapist before making life changing decisions.

The Bottom Line

If you’re stuck in a tough situation with your stepdaughter, try to remember that she’s probably going through some difficult life changes.

Do your best, and keep the lines of communication open so you can all work together to find a solution that works for everyone involved. And finally, remember that this isn’t forever!

Your stepdaughter will eventually grow up and move on with her life, which means she’ll probably stop making these manipulative attempts at some point.

What You Should Do Next…

1. Snag Our Connected Parent Challenge

Are you ready for more activities to build a rock-solid bond with your kids? Try our Connected Parent Challenge! It’s 15 Days of 15 Minute activities that are sure to improve your connection, diminish bad behavior, and create lasting memories. Plus, I’ll deliver more amazing parenting strategies to your inbox weekly (don’t worry, unsubscribe any time!).

2. Join Our Free Online Community

Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.

3. Take a Free 60-Minute Parenting Webinar

Do you need actionable strategies right now? Register for this free 60-minute webinar titled How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. You’ll walk away with parent-tested tactics to get your kids to listen starting today.

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